Everybody's Journey The Basics of Islam Audio and Video Thoughts and Writings Album releases by Yusuf Islam

Even though it was terrific to be born in an age where comic-fiction, robots and even shiny white spaceships were coming true, it was odd how the human spirit still seemed as deep and mysterious as the vastly uncharted universe itself – and equally as borderless. So, setting out with great hope to find the secret source of happiness and success, I began my journey to the centre of the unknown. There were certainly lots of puzzles to solve.

Like a lot of kids, I had many questions that could not be easily answered. Looking enquiringly around at this wild new world into which I had landed, the road of life was obviously not without certain pitfalls and dangers; the Second World War had just ended and millions of people had been killed - but for what? Sometimes, staring out of the window into the vastness of the deep black night I would wonder, 'Where does the sky end?' The thought of death frightened me. 'What came afterwards?' My mind could not penetrate beyond the veil of darkness. Was I alone?

"In the blackness of the night"


In the blackness of the night
I seem to wander endlessly
With a hope burning out deep inside
I'm a fugitive; community has driven me out
For this bad, bad world I’m beginning to doubt
I'm alone and there is no one by my side
In the blackness of the night
I see a shadow passing by
From the heels of an old soldier boy.
There's no compromising
And his eyes are black as the sky
For this bad, bad world he is going to die.
He's alone and there is no one by his side
In the blackness of the night
I see a sparkle of a star
From the sweet silver tear of a child
And she's clutching at a photograph of long, long ago
When her parents were happy she was too young to know
She's alone and there is no one by her side
I'm alone and there is no one by my side
In the blackness of the night
I seem to wander endlessly
With a hope burning out deep inside
I'm a fugitive; community has driven me out
For this bad, bad world I’m beginning to doubt
I'm alone, and there is no one by my side
BLACKNESS OF THE NIGHT
 

But now behold, in the quick forge, and working house of thought, how London doth pour out her citizens

(William Shakespeare)
Like galaxies, bright and sparkling with life, for me, it was like that being born at the heart of London’s Theatre district, the West End, a sort of ‘fantasy land’ full of coffee bars, shops, theatres and cinemas. Observing the world was like looking through a store window, glittering with stardust. At one end of my road stood Piccadilly’s Eros, a symbol of that whirling, colourful scene of vibrant activity. Opportunities were all around me.

Perhaps, like most new-borns starting out in life, I felt I was the centre of the universe. But there were serious problems facing me. My identity was still rather unclear: my Father was from Cyprus, my Mother was from Sweden, and our dominant culture at home was British. To add to that, my mother was originally from a Baptist background, my Father was Greek Orthodox, and I went to a local Roman Catholic School in Drury Lane. So I was forced very early on to be open-minded.

I remember looking at the choices given to me. Religion was constantly making me feel guilty, warning me about immorality and dangers of this fleshly life. These were represented in clear pictorial terms by the Devil, depicted with two horns; the temptation of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit; and Jesus suffering on the Cross, representing the key to salvation. But balancing those kinds of fearful images with the zappy, fun-filled entertainment that was taking place outside the doors of the Church, well…the centre of the universe for me was not in Religion - it was probably closer to the city streets and arcades.

"Lovely city when do you laugh?"


Lovely city, when do you laugh?
Stoney people, what do you have?
Well, you ride around on a bright shiny cloud
And you think that you've found true happiness
There's no method in your mind
And your tempers are kind
Is it too much to ask to give it a rest?
Lovely city, when do you laugh?
Stoney people, what do you have?
I'm a part of you, you don't wanna be
I'm an unexpected visitor who's dropped in for tea
But I’m not so low you don't even know that I’m here
You can't even see
Lovely city, when do you laugh?
Stoney people, what do you have?

LOVELY CITY (WHEN DO YOU LAUGH?)
My father was a hard-working man; at the end of every day, he would stand at the café’s old baroque till, counting the pounds, pennies and halfpennies. He taught us the value of having enough food on the table and discouraged waste. Dad had come a long way from his native village, Tala, situated on a hill overlooking the ancient coastal city of Paphos in Southern Cyprus. He grew up in a household where even a pair of shoes was considered a luxury, but my father was never ashamed of his humble background. 'Money doesn't grow on trees!' he never tired of reminding us.

Dad gave me a job in the Restaurant after school as a waiter, so I learnt to earn my pocket money from the tips given by customers. It was also here that I first realised - like my father must have done - that serving the public well can often be highly rewarding.

“And they've been working all day, all day, all day!”

Up at eight, you can't be late
For Matthew & son, he won't wait.
Watch them run down to platform one
And the eight-thirty train to Matthew & son.
Matthew & son, the work's never done,
there's always something new.
The files in your head, you take them to bed,
you're never ever through.
And they've been working all day, all day, all day!
There's a five-minute break and that's all you take,
For a cup of cold coffee and a piece of cake.
Matthew & son, the work's never done,
there's always something new.
The files in your head, you take them to bed,
you're never ever through.
And they've been working all day, all day, all day!
He's got people who've been working for fifty years
No one asks for more money cuz nobody cares
Even though they're pretty low and their rent's in arrears
Matthew & son, Matthew & son,
Matthew & son, Matthew & son,
And they've been working all day, all day, all day!

MATTHEW & SON
Rise above time and space, pass by the world, and be yourself your own world.
(Shabistari)
My best friend, Andy, and I would often play together around the bombed ruins that littered parts of the city, frequently strewn with broken glass, mud and smashed bricks. But our favourite escapade was to go out late evenings and dangerously scale the local buildings, climbing high up onto the rooftops. From those heights we'd gaze at the noisy city below, undeclared secret champions of London's skyline.

Everything in this society was geared towards 'making it'. The American image of the good life was projected everywhere: films and television were just flooding in. The emphasis was to be on top: get rich, be young, healthy, wealthy and street-wise. Indeed I was - and roof-wise as well! I wanted to be an artist, a cartoonist. Then I found out that Van Gogh, one of my favourite painters, died poor and earless, and I realised that perhaps this wasn’t quite the life for me. There was a need for something a little bit more instant – a fast track.

Suddenly there came the big music boom of Merseyside and the Beatles - British Pop had arrived. Gravity had shifted; it was now in U.K. Suddenly there was a big window of opportunity for us youngsters. So I picked up a guitar, chose the name Cat Stevens, and started writing. It wasn't long before I had my first couple of hit records; my name and photo was splashed all over the media and I was on the road - at the grand old age of eighteen!

“The view from the top can be oh, so very lonely?”

The view from the top can be oh so very lonely
And you can be missing such a lot that could be yours
Why can't I stop forgetting myself?
Why am I always trying to be like somebody else
Why can't I love you?
Why bother flying high above you
I know where you are
The view from the top can be oh so very lonely
And you can be missin' such a lot that could be yours
And who's going to miss me?
There’ll only be myself to blame
You know I'd love to hold you tight
And love you all the night
But I don't even know my name
Why can't I stop forgetting myself?
Why am I always trying to be like somebody else?
Why can't I love you?
Why bother flying high above you
I know where you are
The view from the top can be oh so very lonely
And you can be missin' such a lot that could be yours

THE VIEW FROM THE TOP
 
 

 


 

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